Like sliding your feet into a pair of old, comfortable slippers. That’s how hair designer and makeup artist Anne “Nosh” Oldham charmingly describes what it was like getting to work with the cast of Downton Abbey again for the latest installment of the series, A New Era. “Being invited back was such a treat,” she tells T&C. “They really, really are a lovely bunch of people. It genuinely is like a family, and continues to be so.”
Since the show’s premiere in 2011, Oldham has been tasked with doing the hair and makeup for the beloved period drama. “When we started the first season, the looks were completely natural,” she recalls recreating the beauty of the 1910s and 1920s. “The makeup we used on them was really, really minimal.” But in A New Era, which takes place in the late 1920s—a time when makeup slowly became an everyday norm for women—Oldham had the opportunity to dig deeper into her many makeup kits and put her creativity to the test.
“Now that we’re knocking on 1930’s door, you’ve got a much stronger makeup look,” she explains. “So stronger eyebrows, stronger colors on the mouth, that sort of thing.” Yet at the same time, while incorporating these new trends into the beauty looks of Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael), Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern), and the rest of the leading ladies, Oldham wanted to strike a balance between a natural and glam aesthetic.
“It was an interesting thing really because from the first film to the second film was only nine months to a year,” the pro continues. “So what we wanted to do is just make small changes to everybody so that you could see a passage of time.” That meant keeping the looks to a minimum for day scenes in Highclere Castle, upping the ante for formal dinners and events at night, and warming up the faces for the scenes filmed in the South of France. “We wouldn’t necessarily go full-on 1930s,” she notes. “We tried to still echo the period, but keep it really natural, and then push the period more in the evenings.”
To create these no-makeup makeup and glam looks, Oldham relied heavily on products by Charlotte Tilbury, Bobbi Brown, and Japanese beauty brand Sensai. She also referred to the cast for their skincare preferences. “At the beginning of every film, we always find out what they’ve been using and if there’s anything that they’re completely addicted to at any given time,” says Oldham. “Then we try and incorporate that in, especially skincare. We used pretty much every different sort of brand of foundation across the board because we have so many people.”
Also a beauty must-have for Oldham? A green-tinted eyebrow pencil by Suqqu, another Japanese luxury makeup brand. “I find a lot of eyebrow pencils can be too warm,” she explains. “And this has got a cold edge to it. I used it on my ladies. I thought it was absolutely amazing.”
Below, Oldham shares more on-set essentials she used to create the looks of the late 1920s.
Magic Cream Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid
To prep the actresses’ skin, Oldham used this glow-inducing moisturizer. Says the pro, “We found with natural looks, that was fantastic.”
Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir
Oldham also used this serum in conjunction with the moisturizer as a makeup primer.
Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks
Bobbi Brown’s cream blush was a go-to for warming up the ladies’ faces.
For a matte primer, Oldham relied on Giorgio Armani.
Framing Eyebrow Liquid Pen
While Oldham admits using a green eyebrow pencil might seem odd, she swears by the natural-looking results it deposits on brows.
Lip Color Lipstick in Roseberry
Oldham loves Bobbi Brown’s lipstick in this rosy color because she finds that it delivers a very natural hue.
Flawless Satin Moisture Foundation SPF 25
Oldham likes this Sensai foundation because it’s highly pigmented but also lightweight.
Cellular Performance Pressed Powder
“I like that as a powder,” Oldham says of Sensai’s compact. “It’s really fantastic because it’s very, very light.”
For eyeshadow, Oldham depended on Burberry’s palettes.
The pro also relied on Tom Ford’s darker lipstick shades to recreate the makeup looks of the 1920s. “I mix and match,” she explains. “A lipstick for Laura wouldn’t be right for Michelle because of the different tones.”
Oldham often used this eyeliner in the Deep Aubergine hue on McGovern. “I’m not very keen on black unless it’s in the 1960s or something,” she explains. “It’s really nice to use a color that is dark but not too dense.”
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